By Michelle Frost
In a bike-friendly city like Portland with 17,000 bicycle commuters, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation PBOT website, there is no shortage of places to find a bicycle. Starting a business in this competitive market and keeping the doors open for ten years is reason to celebrate and Clever Cycles invites everyone to their 10 Year Anniversary Party on Saturday, June 10, 4 – 8 pm with a family fun ride at 2pm. All are welcome to meet at the store at 900 SE Hawthorne.
Clever Cycles is a team of eight people (all wearing many hats) according to Todd Fahrner, partner and owner. This bike shop focuses on offering a selection of bicycles built specifically for transportation. “Most commuters are not just a guy with a briefcase,” Todd explains, “but they’re taking trips with the kids, running household errands, etc. We really specialize in commuter bikes.”
One staffer is Sales Associate Anna Olsen who has extensive experience working in bike shops and became a certified bike mechanic when she relocated to Oregon from Oklahoma nearly three years ago. Her easy smile and good cheer greet customers as they enter and her knowledge and expertise help them learn about the variety of bikes on the sales floor. Busy with work and school, she has admittedly not been involved with much of the party planning but will likely be leading the fun ride. Meet Anna before 2pm and join her for the ride.
When asked about the store’s beginnings Fahrner mentions this about the competition, “There were 80 bike shops in Portland at that time.” The shop has changed addresses three times, remaining in the same location, as it grew to expand into the front of the building and finally filling up the entire corner to become the roomy retail space you find today.
Clever Cycles offers bicycles designed in Toronto, London and Holland, to illustrate their variety. Among the selection, customers will find folding bikes, city bikes, kids’ bikes, electric bikes, as well as helmets, accessories, and clothing. Customers are encouraged to test ride any of the bikes. Rentals are another option. The back of the store offers a full-service repair shop. Anyone is welcome to bring in their bike for a tune-up and to test ride any bike on the floor while they wait.
Bikes built for transportation, including box bikes and front loaders or ‘long johns’ can haul much more weight than a standard bicycle. “They can haul 350 to 400 pounds of cargo before the handling gets wobbly,” Fahrner says, “and electric assist is an increasingly popular feature” especially for those trips over Mt. Tabor. Another bicycle offering is the long tail which can carry 2 to 3 children and 6 bags of groceries. “A longer wheelbase means better handling,” Fahrner explains.
Regarding Portlanders who are not already riding a bicycle around town, Fahrner states that safety is the main reason they hear about why people are not riding. “If you’re not afraid of walking or driving, then you can ride a bike,” Fahrner says “A bike is something everyone can use.” Also, to the community, Fahrner says, “Thanks! It’s been a real adventure. We’ve put everything into this.” To read more about bicycling adventures in-store and around the state, check out Fahrner’s blog at the store’s website www.clevercycles.com.
Highlights of the party include a Koi Fusion food cart and beverages by Base Camp Brewing. “You don’t have to be an active cyclist to come enjoy the ride,” says Anna, encouraging any and all to join in the celebration. For details: https://www.facebook.com/events/688008484723841/.
Fun Facts from the Portland Bureau of Transportation website (updated 2016):
7.2% of commuters are bikes, which is 17,000 bicycles, the highest % of bike commuters for a large American city. Nationally, 0.5% commute by bike. Also, 238% more people biked to work in 2017 than in 2000.
80% wear helmets. 35% are female.
17 miles of bikeways have been built to physically separate bikes from cars.
28 Sunday Parkway events = 691,000 people attending and 90% of attendees ride bikes, since 2008 when the event launched.